NIH COVID-19 Preparedness Plan
Is NIHD ready for a COVID-19 case?
Yes. NIHD is prepared to safely screen, diagnose, and care for patients with respiratory illness, including Coronavirus – COVID-19. In the event a COVID-19 case presents at any care location across the District, NIHD has coordinated care plans in place, established in collaboration with Inyo County Health Department, based on the most current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines.
NIHD is putting visitor and employee family member restrictions in place.
To help protect our employees and our patients against flu and other respiratory illness, NIHD put visitor and employee family member restrictions in place. Please avoid visiting hospital patients if you have a cough, fever (100.4), sore throat, body aches, or gastrointestinal symptoms. Also, until further notice, employees may not bring family members to the workplace unless they are seeking medical treatment.
NIHD is suspending the following non-critical activities until further notice based on CDC recommendations to avoid large crowds:
- Community Meetings
- Community Education Classes
- Healthy Lifestyle Talks
- Travel to approved conferences & seminars
- Project vendors coming on site
For updates, see www.nih.org.
The staff at Northern Inyo Hospital would like to share the below question and answer information with you regarding ongoing operations and changes during this pandemic. Please check back often as this information may change as NIHD continues their mission to keep the community safe during this pandemic.
Screening process begins with the front desk team, who asks basic questions about symptoms over the phone. The RHC phone number is (760) 873-2849. If COVID-19 like symptoms are identified the patient is interviewed by a nurse who asks more in-depth clinical questions to determine whether the patient should be seen in the drive-up clinic. If evaluation is deemed necessary the patient is interviewed and examined by advanced practice provider in the drive-up clinic and testing is performed if indicated. Patients are provided with a mask and staff in drive-up clinic wear full PPE.
There is same day service by primary care providers for non-COVID-19 essential visits and complaints. Urgent care related issues will also continue as before. Our Care Coordination team continues to offer services and support for Medication Assisted Treatment patients. Please call the RHC if you are unsure if you should be scheduled for a in person visit or Telehealth visit at (760) 873-2849.
Our providers are able to offer a variety of Telehealth visit types for established patients. Providers in other outpatient clinics are also able to conduct similar types of visits via Telehealth, including internal medicine, orthopedics, pediatrics, and women’s clinic. As above, lease call the RHC or other NIHD clinics to discuss appointments via Telehealth.
It is our goal as health care providers at Northern Inyo Hospital to provide the most evidence based, compassionate care to our patients at all times. We would like all of the communities that we serve to know that we are working around the clock to be as prepared as possible to deliver the best possible care to anyone in need. This viral pandemic has forced us to be flexible with our policies and procedures in the Emergency Department to both comply with State and Federal guidelines, and to protect our patients and ourselves during these trying times. When you come to the Emergency Department at Northern Inyo Hospital over the next few weeks to months you may experience some different processes than you are used to.
When you walk up to the Emergency Department you will be met by a sign in front of the entrance doors with instructions on how to be registered to be evaluated. Please follow these instructions as they are in place for everyone’s safety. We as providers are conducting a lot of our patient interviews using tablets capable of supporting face-to-face video conferencing. In this way, we are able to protect you as the patient and us as providers from unnecessary exposure. We have a separate area where we are evaluating patient’s with symptoms that could be related to a COVID-19 infection. This area has a registered nurse present at all times to keep you safe and has all of the capabilities of our normal Emergency Department. Regretfully, we also have a strict “no visitor” policy (with very few exceptions including one parent visitor allowed with our pediatric patients) that we are enforcing in the Emergency Department. We understand that being next to your loved one as they are being evaluated in the Emergency Department is incredibly valuable. However, it our responsibility to keep our community members and the members of our health care system safe. For loved ones admitted to the hospital we ask that you designate one individual to visit them while they are admitted. This person will be the only one who can visit them while in the hospital throughout their hospital stay. We ask for your understanding and cooperation during these challenging times.
Testing is currently limited due to a lack of supplies. There are specific criteria to qualify for testing. At this time, we do not know how accurate the test is. Even if you have a negative test, you should quarantine as recommended if you are experiencing upper respiratory symptoms such as cough, shortness of breath, runny nose, sore throat, fever, body aches, decreased since of taste and / or smell. Even if testing is performed, it takes several days to result. Northern Inyo Hospital is working diligently to increase our community’s access to newer more accurate and faster tests as well as increasing the turnaround time for results of our COVID-19 screening tests.
During these trying times we are asking the patients’ in our community to take an active role to protect both themselves and our counties health care workers from unnecessary exposure. If you feel well enough to use the phone we are strongly encouraging our community members to call either their primary doctor’s office, the Rural Health Clinic, or the Emergency Department prior to coming to receive care so they can be best directed. If you think you might have a COVID-19 infection, call your primary care provider first. If your provider thinks you need to be tested and cannot test you there, have them contact the RHC at (760) 873-2849. If it is after office hours then please call the Emergency Department at (760) 873- 2607. You should be able to get a hold of a health care professional at all hours to be able to get guidance.
It may be difficult for you as a patient or family member of a patient experiencing symptoms to know when to physically come to either the Rural Health Clinic or the Emergency Department. If you are having a hard time breathing and / or are experiencing a significant amount of shortness of breath then you likely need to be seen by a health care professional right away. If you feel well enough to call in advance then our health care team can better direct you which will save you time and allow our health care workers to prepare for your arrival. As always, if you feel you are experiencing a life-threatening emergency then we recommend that you call 911. Our EMT's and Paramedics are continuing to work diligently throughout this pandemic. Please try to keep them safe by only calling 911 if you are having a true emergency.
We are still functioning as a full Emergency Department for all emergencies, not just those related to COVID-19. Our surgeons and other consulting physicians are also available to treat you or your loved one for any emergency that arises.
The staff at the Emergency Department of Northern Inyo Hospital is committed to help our community through this pandemic. We live in, and are a part of this community and will do everything in our power to help each and every person in need. We appreciate your cooperation as our staff continues to try and perfect our policies and procedures as we learn more about this pandemic.